How To Re-Oil Your Butcher Block

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When Selma and I first made the investment of replacing our plastic college apartment cutting board with a solid maple butcher block, we had no idea that we would also be signing up for a lifetime of maintenance. But even though they do require a little upkeep and love every few months, it is totally worth it the time and effort. Not only are butcher blocks a statement piece in the kitchen, they are also more sanitary than traditional plastic boards because they don’t harbor bacteria. They’re also much easier on your knife blades meaning you won’t need to re-sharpen them as often!

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A few years ago, I stumbled on a sale for Boos blocks on Gilt.com and immediately jumped on the opportunity to own one at a fraction of the retail price. We went with the 20″x15″x2.25″ board and it is plenty big (and heavy) for our day-to-day use. They aren’t on sale on Gilt anymore but you can still get one on Amazon for a great price. 

Boos recommends that you re-oil your block at least once a month depending on household use but we go roughly 2-3 months without applying any oil and haven’t had any issues so far. It’s actually a pretty simple process but takes a bit of patience and time.

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For our block, we use Boos Mystery Butcher Block Oil and Boos Butcher Block Board Cream. The oil helps moisturize and protect the board and the cream helps seal in the oil and keep moisture out. You don’t need both but I was curious so I ordered both to test out. At a minimum though, you should definitely use the Boos oil or a similar mineral oil. However, don’t get smart and try to use cooking oils. It can turn rancid and ruin your shiny new board. No bueno. 

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Instructions

Step 1: Clean your board with hot soapy water and set aside to air dry completely before applying the oil. 

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Step 2: Squirt a small amount of oil onto the block and begin working it in using a plastic bag or rag. Don’t forget to go over the sides as well. I am personally fond of the ziplock baggie method since they are cheap, disposable, and keep your hands clean.

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Step 3: Once you have an even coat of oil on the board, leave it to soak in overnight. You will notice that some spots are drier than others. This is perfectly normal and is due to the natural fibers of the wood as well as areas of the board that receive heavier use. Wipe off any excess oil and apply additional oil to any visibly dry spots. Flip over and repeat. 

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Step 4 (Optional): Once the oil has settled in, apply a small amount of board cream and spread it evenly over the board. Again, let it sit overnight and wipe off any excess. 

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Other maintenance tips: 

  • If your board begins to stain or develop odors due to smelly foods such as onions or garlic, you can use a paste of kosher salt and lemon juice on the affected area and let it sit for 2-3 minutes before rinsing it off. 
  • Use separate boards when dealing with meats and veggies. Our boos block is used strictly for non-meat products in order to prevent cross contamination. If you decide to use it for cutting raw meat, I suggest cleaning it thoroughly with soap and water after each use and re-oiling every 1-2 weeks. 
  • Any food grade mineral oil will work; it doesn’t have to be Boos brand. I have also read that linseed oil and walnut oil work well if you can’t get ahold of mineral oil. We have also had good experiences with the Ikea-branded mineral oil “SKYDD”. It is cheap, easy to find, and a good excuse to go to Ikea for some Swedish meatballs. 

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And with that, thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments!!

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